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The Downbeat - 1 March 2011 - #436 - The February Al Edition

David Aldridge from on the Deron Williams trade (which he has the Jazz listed under the losers category),

They didn't get all that upset when Williams would insist on running pick and roll plays early in games instead of running Sloan's offense -- so that, the team increasingly believed, he could get a leg up on piling up early assists, according to a source with knowledge of the Jazz's thought process.

"He wanted to coach a little bit, too," the source said. "But he was like that in college."

Sorry Jazz, but that is bush league. First, for a team that keeps everything so close to the vest, this seems like a calculated hit. Second, I am not the leak. Third, if he was like that in college, you're complaining about it? You drafted him with that knowledge apparently.

Of course there could be some truth to all of this. But as Ross Siler pointed out, the Jazz don't trash players on their way out. So why are they letting it all out now? There was also some information in Brian T. Smith's piece from the organization.

Recapping the craziest trade deadline in 25 years |

What was almost as crazy as trading Deron Williams was the fact that they didn't make any more trades to get below the luxury tax. Just when you think you've figured things out, you realize that you don't know what they're going to do. John Hollinger mentions this in his latest (Insider)

Utah, in particular, could have moved Andrei Kirilenko's expiring contract and taken back less expiring money, even if it was dead weight -- for instance, the Jazz could have sent Kirilenko, Francisco Elson and cash to Minnesota for Eddy Curry and Sebastian Telfair, saving themselves a good sum of money; further, the Jazz could have traded Earl Watson or Ronnie Price to a playoff team, which would have got them under the tax and saved more. The fact we didn't hear anything about them even working on such deals suggests they valued owning Kirilenko's Bird rights more; they may well be right, but it was an unusual move for a small-market team to stay in the tax.

Of course the Jazz probably had talks about everyone on the team. I thought for sure there would be minor move with Watson, Price, or Fesenko. There had been rumors that the Jazz had spoken with the Knicks for Watson or Price.

Credit them for still spending and not throwing in the towel on the season. But as soon as you trade Deron Williams, any aspirations that they might have had at contending go out the window. This was a team that they thought would contend last season yet they made a couple of moves to lower their salary cap hit. Truly, this is not the team that we knew even 2 years ago.

NBA: Not everyone was wheelin' and dealin' at trade deadline - ESPN

Al Jefferson had a Player of the Month-type month in February. In 12 games, he shot 55% from the field, while averaging 24 & 10 along with 2 blocks per game. While he's been a consistent scorer and rebounder since he came to the team, this is the Big Al that everyone wanted. Last night's game against the Celtics was the exclamation point on his season as he put up 28 & 19 and carried the team against one of the best, if not the best in the league.

My favorite part though was Al going toe to toe with KG. Garnett may have been getting inside Al's head but Jefferson didn't back down and continued to be the aggressor.

What might be as equally as remarkable is that Paul Millsap had his best month since November despite Al going off. He still put up 19 & 8.5 while shooting 54%.

And who knows, if Ray Allen was from this planet, maybe the Jazz get the W last night.

Prompted from a twitter conversation this morning, here's how Wesley Matthews and Raja Bell's numbers stack up. From,

1 Raja Bell 2010-11 34 54 54 1648 161 378 .426 54 154 .351 65 74 .878 24 110 134 90 45 12 46 135 441
2 Wesley Matthews 2010-11 24 59 46 2044 336 754 .446 109 279 .391 195 234 .833 35 158 193 120 76 8 105 151 976

Matthews had gotten stronger as the season has gone on while Raja has been inconsistent on offense. What's been most surprising though it Bell getting torched on defense. If you go based on defensive rating, he's having the worst year of his career, giving up 113 points per 100 possessions.

While Bell was brought in to replace Matthews, we lost Wesley because the Jazz wanted to bring in Al. So it's not really a question of whether or not you prefer Matthews or Bell, but whether you prefer Matthews or Big Al.

Simple Tuesday poll...